Alyssa Hollins wants to be remembered as a nice girl with a nice smile.
And in any given press conference, that’s all she’ll show to the media. After a question, Hollins, a sophomore, will typically grin and give a short and honest response.
She said she knows the time and place for her to show her silly side. Her teammate and roommate senior Marchele Campbell can attest to that.
“Alyssa loves to be in the spotlight,” Campbell said. “When we have team gatherings or banquets, she goes to the mic and she’s the spotlight person. And her commercials. Last year she had one of those ‘Don’t drink’ commercials. That’s Miss Hollywood right there. She likes to shine.”
As she sat resting her chin on a Gatorade bottle Friday night after practice, Hollins recalled bantering sarcasms back and forth with senior EeTisha Riddle for five minutes when Hollins called her teammates’ attention to an over-sized T-shirt Tamika Jackson was wearing after a game.
But her teammates willingly play along. Jackson responded by mocking Hollins because she had lost her voice and was talking deeper than normal.
“We can talk about each other and it’s nothing personal,” Hollins said. “But I’m just funny. I can’t explain it. If I could define it, it wouldn’t be funny anymore. I promise you though, I promise you I’m funny.”
Missouri coach Cindy Stein said that it’s Hollins’ personality and leadership skills that could make her a team captain in the next couple of years.
“She’s funny. She’s mature. She gets along with everybody,” Stein said. “I think she’s just easy to like. And when people are easy to like, they follow them.”
As a sophomore, Hollins has started all but one game this season. Campbell said that she thought Hollins was mature for her age last year, and now she’s even better at being a vocal leader.
“She’s not afraid to stand up to seniors, for instance, if they’re not doing the right thing,” Stein said. “Like if Tiffany Brooks is slacking off a drill, Alyssa will step up and tell her. And that’s great for a sophomore. And Tiffany listens.
There’s a respect factor. And last year, Alyssa wouldn’t have said, ‘Boo.’ She’s stepping up to say things when she can.”
At the beginning of her freshman season, Hollins remembers Brooks as one of the first of her teammates to take an interest in making sure she was adjusting well to the new atmosphere. Since Hollins didn’t have a car then, Brooks would offer to take her places.
“I didn’t feel like the other people didn’t care, but she used to come get me and take me to the store,” Hollins said. “She was like my best buddy. She took care of me last year.”
This year, Hollins has a car, so she has been taking freshman Toy Richbow to places like Wal-Mart and different restaurants.
“She’s my mini-me,” Hollins said. “We just chill ... What Tiffany did was kind of a map for me of how to go about it. I wouldn’t have known how to do it, but with Tiffany coming to see me, it showed me what could be done and what should be done.”
As a sophomore starting games with four seniors, Hollins said she thinks about that almost all the time. But if she’s concerned about messing up, that’s also something she doesn’t show very often.
“When I was in high school, I used to get scared of big names,” she said. “Then I realized everyone’s just playing basketball. If you work hard and be aggressive, you’ll be just fine. I mean, what’s the worst they can do, put the ball in the basket?”
Hollins said by the end of her senior year and into her freshman year of college, she realized that “nobody’s Superman.”
“I got over that,” she said. “I think if I hadn’t, I would still be where I was last year. I wouldn’t be starting if I still got scared of people. Even now, I guard big-named people, and I just do what I can. If I’m here, I can play with these people.
It’s all about confidence in yourself, you can do whatever.”
While she thinks some might mistake her confidence for her being a little vain, Hollins insists that she’s just playing around when she jokes with her teammates, and worries she comes on too strong sometimes.
“I’m really goofy,” she said, laughing. “I tend to be fairly loud. We just crack jokes. I tell you, I’m pretty funny. It’s stuff I see, I don’t even tell jokes. I’m pretty sarcastic. I know, with this sweet face? Everybody says that.”